AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court has rejected Zakia Jafri’s petition challenging a clean chit by a Supreme Court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) to the state’s top politicians including then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and bureaucrats in the 2002 Gujarat riots. The court has not accepted Ms Jafri’s allegation of “a larger conspiracy.” Zakia Jafri’s husband Ehsaan Jafri, a Congress leader, was one of 69 people killed when a large mob attacked Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad on 28 February 2002.
Here is your 10-point cheat-sheet to this story:
1.Zakia Jafri had approached the high court in March 2014 against a lower court verdict accepting the SIT’s report, which concluded that then Chief Minister Narendra Modi took all possible steps to control the riots that swept through Gujarat after coaches of the Sabarmati Express train were set afire at Godhra station in the state, killing 59 people.
2.The high court’s Justice Sonia Gokani started final hearings in the case in 2015. The SIT’s lawyer has defended its findings, underlining that these have already been reviewed by the top court’s amicus curiae, or friend of the court.
3.The petition filed by Zakia and the NGO Citizen for Justice and Peace, run by Teesta Setalvad, has alleged that the then Chief Minister had turned a blind eye to the violence and have sought a criminal trial against PM Modi and 58 others for the month-long bloodshed.
4.The SIT report, filed in 2012, had said no charges made by Zakia Jafri were maintainable and had questioned the motive behind her filing her complaint four years after the riots. In 2013, the lower court rejected Ms Jafri’s petition against the report and she moved the high court.
5.The massacre at Gulbarg Society – a cluster of 29 bungalows and 10 apartment buildings housing mostly Muslims – was among the 10 major Gujarat riot cases re-investigated by the special team appointed by the Supreme Court.
6.Ehsaan Jafri, a former Congress parliamentarian, was among 69 people dragged out, hacked and burnt by the rioters. The Congress leader’s frantic phone calls to police officers and senior politicians for help allegedly went unanswered, Zakia has alleged.
7.Last year, a special court in Ahmedabad convicted 24 attackers for the massacre that the court described as the “darkest day in the history of civil society.” But the court, which also acquitted 36 people including a BJP corporator in this case, underlined that there was no larger conspiracy.
8.11 people were convicted for murder in this case. Another 13 – including Atul Vaid, an Ayurveda doctor and Vishwa Hindu Parishad or VHP leader – were sentenced for lesser offences.
9.The verdict was seen as another setback for the Jafri household, which criticised the verdict alleging people involved in the massacre get away. “They must get the punishment as they killed people and destroyed their families. I saw them doing it with my own eyes,” Ms Jafri said.
10.The trial court ruled that Mr Jafri opening fire in self-defence had “acted as a catalyst and infuriated the mob”.